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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Trip Home Was Also of Little Consolation

March 31, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

The Arkansas' basketball team lost in the National Invitation Tournament Thursday night, and then got lost on the way home.

The pilot of the charter plane flying the team--and its boosters and cheerleaders--home from New York mistakenly landed at the wrong airport, touching down in Springdale, some 12 miles north of where it was supposed to land in Fayetteville.

Moreover, when the plane got to the end of the short runway, its nose gear got stuck in the mud. Then, when the pilot tried to back up, the plane's powerful thrust engines tore up the runway pavement.

Arkansas lost to Connecticut, 74-64, in the NIT consolation game. Next time, the Razorbacks will take a train.

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Trivia time: The Kentucky Wildcats and Arizona Wildcats are playing for the men's NCAA basketball championship tonight. When was the last time Wildcats met in the title game?

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Haves and have nots: While the Atlanta Braves will open the season by starting a pitching rotation featuring four men who won at least 15 games last year, the Detroit Tigers will start an entire rotation that won 11 games in 1996.

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Rookie mistake: During the winter, a dentist fitting Dmitri Young for braces talked the St. Louis Cardinal rookie first baseman into wearing red and blue wires--the team's colors.

Said Young of the appliances he will wear for a year and a half: "I was dumb enough to get them."

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Plea bargain? Houston's Charles Barkley, who is taking steroid-based anti-inflammatory pills to recover from a hip injury:

"If I kill anybody or do anything stupid this week, it's because I'm on a steroids rage."

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Say what? New York Islander defenseman Dennis Vaske, upon recently returning to the lineup after sitting out 48 games because of a concussion: "It was a no-brainer if that makes any sense from a concussion victim."

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Final bell: Blackie Sherrod in the Dallas Morning News: "Remembered wisdom from old fighter Willie Pep: 'You lose three things in this order. First your legs go, next your reflexes, then your friends.' "

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Trivia answer: 1951, when Kentucky played Kansas State. Kentucky won, 68-58.

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And finally: Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News: "Is there any way to get [Billy] Packer and [Dick] Vitale to stop shrieking that college basketball is still more popular than "Seinfeld"?

"You know what the deal is with these guys? They're just desperate to protect their own franchises.

"They aren't analysts anymore. They're agents with microphones."

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